August 08, 2018
We are not mates with Australia
We are not mates with Australia
Let's get the conclusion of this opinion piece out of the way, up front, and quickly. It's a myth that we are mates.
Australians are no longer our best friends or mates. They have to be watched very carefully in all dealings, whether they are on the rugby field, the cricket field, in the bar or in the boardroom.
It is clear that both cultures have taken a clear steer in totally opposite directions since the late 1970s.
We officially contemplated joining the Australian Federation as a state in 1900. Prime Minister Richard Seddon set up a Royal Commission that rejected being part of the Australian Act of Federation 1901. New Zealand is still nominated in that Act.
We must reflect on the nostalgia around this relationship, where we all started life as colonies of Great Britain. There is no doubt that the flower of our leadership lay squandered on battlefields in foreign lands, and this helped forge the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps – the Anzacs.
We even represented together at the 1908 and 1912 Olympics as Australasians. We fought together in the Boer War, World War I, and World War II. Kiwis fronted with Australians in Korea, the Malayan Confrontation, and Vietnam and latterly in Afghanistan and Iraq. And goodness knows how many sorties have been carried out by our Special Air Services Elite troops on engagements elsewhere.
It is fair to say both nations, on their nationhood journey, forged a view of themselves on the battlefield and under the baptism of fire.
They understood that they talked differently, acted differently, had different social mores and saw the world differently – particularly in regard to not having a class-led system, as the Brits did.
There is no doubt, that the camaraderie forged on the battlefield, helped craft a very close relationship.
But that relationship changed significantly, and I suspect from the 1970s on. Prime Minister Norm Kirk determined that we would recognise mainland Communist China as the rightful governance of that country. He also explored trade in opening up negotiations with Russia.
He did this because Great Britain had voted to join the European Union and he did this to open up new economies for trade because Great Britain had determined that our preferential right of access to their market would be curtailed over the next 10 years.
We followed this up in the 1980s when David Lange and the Labour Government of the day determined that invitations to nuclear armed ships would no longer be welcomed in New Zealand, whilst we asserted our Nuclear Free Zone.
Prime Minister Helen Clark again affirmed our separate right to assert foreign policy when in 2003 the Labour Government determined there was not a United Nations mandate to go to war with Iraq, solely because the United States said it should happen.
You start to see a major divide growing in the way we saw the world and we engaged with it.
What you also start to see is Australia becoming far more aligned with the United States of America. For good reason Australia had moved from Great Britain, who no longer were the world power they once were.
But more importantly, Australia was bombed by Japan in the Second World War, Japanese submarines entered Sydney Harbour during World War II and unlike New Zealand, Australia understands its close proximity to Asia.
If anyone thinks Boat People are destined for New Zealand, when you've got one of the largest continents sitting in front of us, they need their head read.
Australia has harmonised with the United States and is close to being its 51st state in everything but name.
Australian politicians have also heavily subsidised their agricultural industry to make it more competitive with our non-subsidised farming community. They egregiously banned our apple exports to the extent that we had to take our mates to the World Trade Organisation. They have removed access to health care and education support to New Zealanders.
Their character is shown on full display when they play their greatest national code – Crookit. Their White Australia Policy, which was legislated from 1901-1975, has been dusted off and is back in play.
The way in which New Zealanders, who are New Zealanders solely by accident of birth but who have been bred in Australia, are being exited and vilified is not the way to treat mates.
What about the Greeks, Italians, Lebanese and Croatians? They play up and it's Ka Pai.
The massive contribution of New Zealanders to the Australian economy in a range of industries where they pay top dollar in tax, is never acknowledged. New Zealanders in Australia are always defined by a very small minority of Kiwis who get up to mischief – and it is over-reported, over hyped, overstated and totally unfair.
The issue of the flag raised by Winston Peters when he was Acting Prime Minister, is important, and the silly flag referendum by John Key – which took our minds off a lack of housing and the high growth in the underclass – could have been a worthy conversation with a far worthier outcome.
We need a different flag to assert our difference and to show we are definitely not Australian.
And because we are definitely not Australian, we are definitely not mates, given the fact that Kiwis are never treated "fair dinkum" in the land of the "young and free".
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